JanetJanet Morris always thought of herself as an open-minded person. That is why she listened to Benjamin Douglas Ouvre on AM 560 every morning while she drove to work. After all, if she was going to criticize her right-wingnut friends who listened to him, she felt obligated to know what he said and hear it for herself. It was more courtesy than they ever showed her.

“Good morning, my fellow patriots,” Ben Ouvre recited the meme of conservative pundits. Janet felt her blood heat up with a surge of indignation. She took a deep breath and waited for her anger to pass. “Give him a chance,” she told herself, “Let the man say what he wants to say.”

“You are listening to Radio Free America. You know, this is a special week. And, I know, I know I’ll get some flack for this, but I need to say it: this is a holy week, isn’t it? This week, we celebrate the birth of our great nation, and if you think about it, this was the second time God blessed the earth. The first being Christmas, in which Jesus came to save us; the second, on July 4th, when God established this great nation. On December 25th, Jesus was born. On July 4th, the United States was born. Just like the Apostles at Pentecost, God sent the holy ghost into the minds of the Founding Fathers. So yes, this is a holy week!”

“What is this lunatic talking about? Where in any of the creeds does it say, ‘I believe that the United States is the Kingdom of Heaven on earth?’” Janet gripped the steering wheel tightly and turned up the air conditioning to help cool her off.

The radio went silent for a brief moment. “But, you know my friends,” his solemn voice continued with slow portentousness, “there are rabid secularists who are trying to undermine the faith that is the very foundation of this country, and these,” he began to speak loudly, “ these, monstrous heretics are out to do the same to undermine our national pride!” Ben Ouvre paused. He took a deep breath, which Janet thought appropriate, since he was such a pompous windbag.

She grew impatient. She wondered how anyone could believe this nonsense. Her friends often parroted such tripe, and despite her well-reasoned arguments, she could never disabuse them of these crazy ideas. Janet often gave up on them.

He chuckled. “What is that threat? What are they doing? Well, let me tell you, I have discovered,” Janet heard him rustle the papers on the other side of the dial, “the good people at Radio Free America–my producer Jerry–has uncovered an insidious, demonic plot to ruin this sacred holiday of ours.” His voice fell to a whisper. “And I will share this with you, right after we hear from the brave and courageous patriots who support this station.” A chorus of advertisers filled the airwaves. Gold buyers and investors, tax services, drug companies, and big-box retailers all paid Ben Ouvre handsomely for access to the people who listened to Radio Free America.

Janet steamed as her car crawled along, mired in the morning traffic. This guy was an idiot. He was saying stupid things, and she felt like she was getting stupider listening to him. And anyone who believed him should be declared mentally incompetent. Nothing he said had any value. He was a canker sore in the public discourse.

“Welcome back, my fellow Americans.” He hawked, clearing his throat of truth.

“Good people,” he continued, “I love the Fourth of July. Not just because it is one of the most blessed events in history, but because of fireworks! You know, as a kid, my mom and dad–and it was a mom and a dad, not two moms, not two dads, not a man and a giraffe.” He chuckled. Janet wondered how someone could find humor in such hate.

“My mom and dad would load us up in our Radio Flyer. We’d have blankets, and a thermos of lemonade. They would pull us to the park. My little sister and I would be waving little American flags. You know the ones I’m talking about, the little ones people would wave at parades? Anyway, they’d pull us to the park, where we would sit and watch fireworks. I cannot remember a summer without fireworks can you?

Radio Free America“Well, folks, thanks to the eco-nazis and their allies, fireworks will soon be a thing of the past! This is not a joke. We cannot make this stuff up, could we, Jerry? No. You know, here at Radio Free America, we see things clearly. We see through the lies of this administration and their socialist secularist allies in the so-called scientific community. According to these quacks, the droughts and wildfires that have burned millions of acres in the west are a window into what global warming looks like.”

“No shit, you moron!” Janet yelled at her car radio. She clenched her fists and slammed them against her steering wheel. Sweat beaded on her brow as her anger swelled.

Ben Ouvre laughed. “More like the magic mirror of global warming. Well, because of fears that a single, little ember can start a massive fire, communities all over the nation are cancelling fireworks for the Fourth of July! You see people, you see, you have to understand, how this affects people and communities. It’s causing small businesses to close. People who make millions of dollars selling fireworks are going out of business. And this in the time of a recession! You see, these eco-nazis are using so-called climate change, global warming, or whatever, to cancel the Fourth of July. They are not concerned about the environment, people! They only care about undermining our great republic!”

Disgust and anger consumed whatever patience Janet had left. “Do you actually believe this crap?” She yelled at Ben Ouvre as if he sat next to her. “Do you think about what you say before you utter this nonsense, or do you just string random bullshit together? Do you–

The airbags ended her tirade. Janet’s body stiffened. For a few seconds, her mind was a complete void. Reality slowly introduced Janet to the rear bumper of an Escalade. A flood of sensations and feelings overwhelmed her. The explosion of the airbags rang in her ears. Adrenaline warmly embraced her entire body, an embrace soon broken by the piercing numbness of shock. The rusty taste of blood dribbled down across her lips. Janet could barely make out the muffled voices outside her car. She had no idea what they were saying. All she could hear in the the chaos of her rattled mind was the voice of Benjamin Douglas Ouvre: “Remember, the price of our freedom is vigilance!”

The End



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